December 20 - 1620: The Mayflower departs Provincetown for Plymouth

2007: Coast Guard saves sailor in 29-foot sailboat
Pilgrims returning to the Mayflower by William Halsall courtesy of Wiki Commons.

1620: Pilgrims end five week Cape Cod stay, head west

On this day in 1620, the Pilgrims ended a five-week stint anchored in the harbor of a locale later to be known as Provincetown and left to settle at present-day Plymouth across Cape Cod Bay.

An exploring party had already found a cleared site along the shore past the current Duxbury and Plymouth barrier beaches. The site, a former village known as Patuxet to the Wampanoag, had been abandoned three years earlier when a smallpox epidemic killed its inhabitants.

Less than two weeks before the Mayflower's departure from Provincetown, the Pilgrims suffered the first loss of a brutal winter that would eventually claim half their number. Dorothy Bradford, the wife of future Plimoth Plantation governor William Bradford, fell overboard and drowned. In some accounts, she is believed to have taken her life out of sadness for the couple leaving their young son in the Netherlands, but proof of this is lacking.

Years later, a ferry making the passage between Provincetown and Boston, the Dorothy Bradford, was named in her memory.

2007: Coast Guard rescues sailor in 29-foot sailboat off Cape Cod


On this day in 2007,  a Coast Guard vessel arrived on scene to rescue a lone sailor aboard a 29-foot vessel disabled roughly 270 miles east of Cape Cod.  

The 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma made visual and radio contact with Jean Raymon Collon, aboard the sailing vessel Grail Pilgrin, about 8:15 a.m., today after transiting more than 100 miles through 15-foot seas at a speed of about 6 knots.

The Tahoma crew is currently evaluating the situation to determine the safest way to remove Collon from the Grail Pilgrin and bring him to shore.

"The on scene conditions are quite rough right now," said Cmdr. William Kelly, Tahoma's commanding officer. "Safety is our main objective in rescuing this mariner."  See previous stories on the rescue below the map.

(The 29-foot sailing vessel Grail Pilgrin was disabled and adrift in 15-foot seas with one person aboard roughly 270 miles east of Cape Cod. USCG photo.)

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